The Final Cut and the Possible Role of the Manager

I spent most of the last 24 hours thinking that I would not make a final cut today, but then I did, and in doing so kept two guys I hadn’t met until Monday night. Why? Given that Mr. Charm and I have spent the last two weeks blogging on the science of the try-out process and team selection and so forth this should be obvious, even calculated. At first blush it is not, but looking further it is.

In the concious mind, I think, weigh, consider and analyze over each player, how they fit, and what they give to the team. In the subconcious mind, I sense and feel what a successful team should be. I believe that my blogging over the last two weeks, created a heightened sense in the subconcious mind as to what I was looking for and made the decision a spontaneous “Beautiful Mind” moment.

As the players scrimmaged for the last 15 minutes of the practice, the team took shape in my head. I had seen what each player had to offer, and nothing that they would show in one additional day would change enough to reshape the team. As soon as I reached the basketball office, I began to write down the names. Each name came without hesitation, and gave it a second look and the team was made.

The next part of the job is difficult. I, with the basketball staff, met with each player and advised them of there status. For those making the team, I outlined what I expected of them sometimes this was technical and sometimes it was a simple as wanting a player to smile and have fun. For those not making the team, I explained the basis of my decision. In truth, the margins are narrow and their is always a bit of hope that you have kept the right player, and the concern that you have cut the wrong player.

With the roster solidified, the final question is whether or not there is anyone of the players cut, that would be a good manager. It’s a difficult question, and open to considerable difference in interpretation. My view is the manager position is what you make it. It is not that of an extra player. A manager can serve as a vital link between the players and the coaches. An extra voice of sorts that can keep a hand on the mindset of the players. The manager can also be a vital source of enthusiasm and role model of commitment. The manager himself, though is uniquely situated to learn the game of basketball and more importantly group dynamics. Without the pressure to make plays, or lead, the manager can watch and learn from the exchange of the coaches and players. What communication works? and when? and why? These lessons transcend the team or season and pass into life.

In my coaching career, I have been around three quality managers.  At Oviedo, we had Logan Malmberg, who is now on our staff at Winter Springs as a coach and Scotty Rodman, who is freshman coach at Oviedo.  The best of all was Juan Bernal at Winter Park, who went on to manage at Rollins College.  Juan was the quintessential manager.  Friend and confidant of both the players and coaches.  He used his experiences and special brand of 407 hood loyalty to move into the coachign ranks at Cornerstone Charter School and more prominently with Pedro’s Posse.

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